Pension, PF for Punjab farmers
May 17, 2012
Chandigarh: After free power and water, Punjab farmers may reap another windfall. They will retire and get pension and provident fund. On Wednesday, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal promised to work out a viable proposal to introduce the pension scheme. This was a promise made by Shiromani Akali Dal before storming back to power in the state. Badal issued the order after a meeting with a Bharatiya Kisan Union delegation.
“Giving provident fund to farmers was an election promise. We demanded pension for the debt-ridden farmers,” said BKU leader Rajewal.
The cumulative debt burden on Punjab farmers is a staggering Rs 35,000 crore. The state government has sought a bailout package from the Centre for farmers. Hundreds of farmers have committed suicide with land holdings shrinking and profit margins becoming marginal. A retirement age will be fixed and farmer will be eligible to claim provident fund and pension, a government official said.
“PF and pension will be linked to the sale of farmers’ produce. One sixth of the money obtained from sale of crop will be deposited as PF contribution and the same amount will be contributed by the state government,” said Rajewal.
This will come as a boon for an estimated 14 lakh farmers in Punjab, who are not covered by any pension scheme. “We have seen old farmers being dumped by their debt-ridden families. They have nowhere to go nor do they have money in their banks,” said Rajewal.
The scheme will put an enormous financial burden on the cash-strapped government which is already paying over Rs 1000 crore subsidy for providing free power and water to farmers. Punjab commissioner (finance) has been asked to work out the quantum of burden this will put on the state.